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HawkEye Aerial Defense System (HAD)

SixTech Systems is the exclusive distributor of the HawkEye Aerial Defense (HAD) System, a counter-drone solution engineered and manufactured by the Black River Systems Company (BRSC). Founded over 20 years ago, BRSC has been developing counter-drone systems for various government entities since 2015. Their systems have been vetted by the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and the Department of Homeland Security and are currently deployed in multiple theaters overseas. Because of its ongoing relationship with these organizations, BRSC maintains a database of drone profiles to ensure its counter-drone technologies are able to respond to emerging threats posed by the latest drone formats. The HAD System is the commercial form factor of BRSC’s military systems and accordingly, will benefit from these periodic updates as well. HAD incorporates proven counter-drone technologies, reliability and is backed by a manufacturer with proven track-record.

How It Works

Hawkeye Aerial Defense System

Using a network of sensors and proprietary software, the HAD System essentially creates an electronic virtual dome to encapsulate a building providing the ability to detect (and track), identify, and defend against multiple drones simultaneously.

Detect / Identify / Mitigate

Basic Detection – If the objective is simply to generate an alert when a drone is within a specified range of a facility, this can be accomplished using a single HAD unit. However, HAD is easy and affordable to scale. Expanding the coverage area simply by adding additional units. It will also enable a greater breadth and depth of information to be gathered regarding drone activity in an airspace.

Enhanced Protection - If a more comprehensive counter-drone strategy is needed to cover larger spaces with more complicated layouts, a multi-unit system can be deployed that can be scaled and customized using triangulation via additional sensors.

Both configurations feature:

  • Detection diameter up to 2 km (1.25 miles)
  • All-Weather Effectiveness
  • 24/7 Vigilance – fully automated
  • Fully-Automated and Efficient Operation: 
    • No additional manpower needed
    • Minimal operator training required
    • Seamless integration into existing security systems
    • HAD’s database is updated periodically to stay current with the latest drone signatures
    • Alarms/alerts are automatically triggered when a drone is detected.
    • Automated reporting delivers the most critical information up-front in a summary format revealing: the number of drones entering the airspace, the drone model, intrusion time, and frequency of recurrence.

A Software-Centric Solution – the continuous introduction of new drone formats to the market mandates that to be effective, a counter-drone system must have a dynamic software platform to execute timely updates of its database of “drone DNA” for the new drone models. This adaptability is critical to ensure the system is both reliable and effective. HAD enables this to be done via the Internet.

A multi-unit HAD System provides a more comprehensive menu of capabilities:

360 Degree / Dual-layer Protection / 24-7 – HAD creates a two-layered “security dome” tailored to the specifics of the user’s security objectives and strategy. The exterior zone can be tuned to alert of the presence of a drone whereby the interior zone can be configured to trigger specified countermeasures. The security zones can be customized to fit any size facility and can accommodate irregular boundaries as needed.

Locate and Track Multiple Drones 

Real-time tracking of a drone’s location is critical to determining if and what type of countermeasures should be deployed. To achieve this, multiple HAD units are utilized to create an aerial security perimeter. This configuration enables the HAD System to generate a map of the monitored area to identify and track the precise location of all drones in the monitored airspace.

Automated Tracking and AlertsHADs sensors provide “24/7” real-time tracking of drone activity within the designated security zone. This enables tailoring of the nature and level of the security response. HAD’s proprietary software enables real-time tracking of multiple drones simultaneously, in any conditions, day or night, automatically!

Alerts of intrusions can be sent through SMS, the software user interface, e-mail, network (TCP/IP), SNMP, or smartphone push notification.

Approximate the Location of the Operator – HAD can assist a security team in approximating the location of a drone’s operator which is a key element of the interdiction process. In addition, because the system is documenting each flyover, this information can be used as evidence to present to and directly address a drone’s operator as to the purpose of recurring flyovers. 

Collect Drone Forensics 

Not only does HAD’s software track multiple drones simultaneously, it also identifies and documents each drone as a unique entity. This capability enables the creation and application of a “whitelist” (“friendly”) and “blacklist” (“threat”) from the database of drone identities stored in the system adding filtering capabilities and precision to overall drone situational awareness.

HAD assigns a unique identifier to each drone entering the aerial security zone and records the clock time/length/frequency of its flights within this airspace. This information aids security staff in determining if a drone is simply passing by or conducting recurring, unwelcome surveillance flights and thus, may be used to document and investigate the pilot’s actions and intent.

Immediate Soft-Landing Mitigation™ Capability

One of the features of the non-commercial edition of the HAD system is the ability to autonomously take over control of the drone from its pilot and send it to a pre-designated landing zone or even back to its pilot. This avoids the dangers inherent by a drone falling out of the sky after being “shot down” or because its signals were “jammed” as a number of counter-drone systems promote. However, in the U.S., interfering with a drone’s operation in this manner violates a number of current laws. When evaluating competing systems that tout this mitigation capability as their primary benefit, be aware that this feature cannot be legally utilized within the U.S. even though it is technologically possible.

That said, there are a number of legislative initiatives underway to amend this framework in recognition of the growing number of documented drone incidents occurring in the United States. Should federal legislation be amended to allow a HAD operator to assume control of a nuisance or malicious drone, the HAD unit is designed to accommodate the software upgrade for the mitigation capability without any additional investment in new hardware.

Why RF-based Counter-drone Technology is Preferred

All counter-drone solutions have advantages, limitations, and drawbacks that must be evaluated depending upon the application. A system must detect, identify and, when appropriate, mitigate hostile drone threats. RF-based counter-drone systems afford the best effectiveness in terms of power, accuracy and manpower required to operate successfully.

  • RF based counter-drone systems - Able to determine the location and telemetry of a drone by intercepting its radio frequency (RF) signal. At this time, nearly all drones rely on RF signals for communication with a controller. While this could change over time, RF is the predominate technology used to guide/communicate with a drone.
  • Radar based counter-drone systems are widely available technology and often can be integrated into other defense technologies. These systems can detect objects from several kilometers away and can also help determine telemetry data for detected objectives. One weakness of this technology, however, is that radar systems have difficulty classifying targets, e.g. distinguishing birds from drones, and must be paired with another technology to identify the make and model of a drone. Moreover, if the radar is calibrated to be sensitive to small objects (small drones), it risks generating so many false positives that operators can become desensitized or frustrated to the alarms.
  • Kinetic counter-drone systems physically damage or interfere with a targeted drone. Unlike RF-based systems which cast an active security zone in the airspace about a property, kinetic counter-drone systems have to engage the target on a one-to-one basis which is very difficult to execute because drones are small and nimble. In addition, significant collateral damage can occur when the targeted drone is missed, damaged or disabled causing it to fall from the sky.
  • Multiple sensor systems combine different technologies such as cameras, infrared technology, and acoustic detectors. The premise in combining sensor formats is that the various technologies will counterbalance the weaknesses and gaps in one another. Some of the challenges with a multi-sensor approach: 
    • Optical sensors (cameras) have many of the same challenges as the naked-eye in that there must be line of sight to the target, adequate daylight and weather conditions that don’t inhibit visibility.
    • Using these combined technologies, a database of sounds emanating during drone flyovers and flight characteristics has to be developed and maintained to catalogue and create various “drone signatures.” In addition, as new drones enter the market, this type of data must be continuously gathered by the system and added to the database in order to ensure the systems’ viability. This can be a significant obstacle for many counter-drone systems that rely on a combined sensor strategy as motivated operators need only tweak their drones slightly to avoid detection by sight or sound.
    • The system’s operator often has to interpret feedback from multiple types of sensors which can generate conflicting reports or false positives.